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A form of stress that occurs because of how events in one’s external or internal environment are perceived, resulting in the psychological experience of distress and anxiety (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Mental stress is often accompanied by physiological responses (Cacioppo, 1994). Mental stress is most often induced in the laboratory by demanding and/or noxious stimuli, involving motivation to meet a performance criterion (Blascovich, Mendes, Tomaka, Salomon, & Seery, 2003) and/or social-evaluative threat (Dickerson & Kemeny, 2004), or interpersonal interactions, particularly those involving conflict (Glass & Singer, 1972). Common mental stress tasks include preparing and giving a speech, performing arithmetic, tracing around star with only a mirror image as a guide, performing a reaction time task (Steptoe & Vögele, 1991), and discussing a disagreed upon topic with another person (Gottman & Levenson, 1992).
References and Readings
- Glass, D. C., & Singer, J. E. (1972). Urban stress. Experiments on noise and social stressors. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal and coping. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
- Steptoe, A., & Vögele, C. (1991). Methodology of mental stress testing in cardiovascular research. Circulation, 83, II-14–II-24.Google Scholar